The mother of a Newtownabbey teenager who died from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning has said that her son’s death will not be in vain if they can raise awareness about the silent killer.

Catherine McFerran’s son Neil and his friend Aaron Davidson died in August last year at the holiday apartment they were staying at in Castlerock, Co Derry.

The poisonous gas was leaking into the apartment and the 18-year-olds passed away before their parents, who became concerned when they couldn’t be contacted, could try to save them.

Neil, from Kings Walk, and Aaron, from Fernagh Road, were both students at Glengormley High School.

This week Neil’s parents Catherine and Johnny donated 300 CO alarms to the RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) and Southern Health and Social Care Trust on behalf of the foundation set up in memory of the boys and to raise awareness about the dangers of CO poisoning.

The Gis A Hug Foundation hopes to raise awareness about the steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of poisoning by the deadly gas.

“There is not a lot known about carbon monoxide poisoning and that is what we are trying to change,” said Catherine.

“It is a silent killer. Everyone is aware of the importance of having a smoke alarm in their home, we want everyone to have a carbon monoxide alarm in their homes.

“We don’t want this to happen to anyone else and for any other families to go through what we have gone through. It is not going to make any difference to our lives but it is a very positive thing to be doing and can help save lives.”

She said the foundation, named after Neil’s fondness of hugging, hope to continue providing alarms to those in most need of them across the North.

“We are aiming to provide alarms for free to the elderly and students, people who can’t afford them. If you don’t have an alarm, you don’t have a warning and that’s the key message.”

For more information on the foundation and their aims visit